The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Millennial food bloggers turning passion into careers

Food blogger Tieghan Gerard (Photo courtesy of: Tieghad Gerard)
Food blogger Tieghan Gerard (Photo courtesy of: Tieghad Gerard)

In the minds of many, a typical day for a food blogger consists of a gourmet breakfast, a few hours spent in the kitchen, and a free dinner at a swanky restaurant with a blog post or two in between. This vision could not be further from the truth.

For Skyler Bouchard, the mind behind “Dining With Skyler,” every day is different. When she’s not exploring New York for quirky foods, she might be shooting and editing her own cooking videos, developing recipes for Food Network, or highlighting restaurants in the city for Roker Labs as the star of “Skyler’s Foodie Finds”.

“It’s like running around, eating food, trying everything, being exhausted, making sure you have time to work out and you don’t overwork, and making sure to still eat salad,” Bouchard said.

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Food blogger Skyler Bouchard (Photo courtesy of: Skyler Bouchard)

Food has experienced a sort of renaissance in recent years, making food blogging a viable full-time career for millennials. Leslie Brenner, the head restaurant critic for the Dallas Morning News, said she doesn’t know a time in history when food enjoyed such a cultural spotlight.

Eating has become “entertainment and what we do for fun,” she said.

Mark Vamos, an SMU journalism professor who reviews restaurants for the Dallas Morning News, summed up the advent of the field as a combination of the modern food scene and the “general empowerment of the individual that’s created by the web.”

“You mesh those two things and you have this explosion of crowdsourcing of food and dining,” said Vamos.

Brenner is a former food editor for the Los Angeles Times and the founder of that newspaper’s “Daily Dish,” what she calls one of the “earlier important food blogs.” It was common for early blogs like “Daily Dish” to have multiple people contributing content every day. Today, blogs with single contributors and specialized content are trending.

“If you love somebody’s cooking who has one of these blogs, it’s almost like what a lot of us used to love about cookbooks,” Brenner said. “In a way, it’s our age’s answer to that.”

But this doesn’t mean that cookbooks are going out of style any time soon. In addition to being a full-time food blogger, Tieghan Gerard is readying her first cookbook for a 2017 release. Gerard’s life in Colorado is certainly different than Bouchard’s in New York, but her workload isn’t.

Gerard’s blog, “Half Baked Harvest,” focuses on her passion for cooking and baking, as well as her sharp food photography skills. She spends a substantial part of her day in the kitchen developing recipes and cooking, but reserves extra time for working on her cookbook, staying on top of emails, and completing projects for brands she collaborates with, like Crate and Barrel, Driscoll’s, and Blue Diamond.

“When you’re working for yourself, it’s hard to not stop,” said Gerard. “It’s not nine to five.”

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Food blogger Tieghan Gerard (Photo courtesy of: Tieghad Gerard)

Multitasking is an important skill for food bloggers, but it’s not the key to success in the field. Gerard said that with all the work involved in actually making a sustainable income, passion and dedication are essential.

“If you want to succeed, it all just comes down to you,” Gerard said. “It’s really how much you want it.”

Food bloggers like Gerard can earn money from collaborating with brands. From using a brand’s products in recipes, to working on social media posts for food-focused media companies, working with brands is key to earning an income.

Lily Kaplan is the founder of “Eating Through San Francisco,” chronicling her dining exploits across the city. In the early stages of her blog, Kaplan made a move to New York for new content.

She soon realized that her following was already deeply rooted in its San Francisco beginnings and moved back to the city where she’s now fully ingrained in the food scene.

“Every weekend, how I get together with my friends is, ‘where are we doing brunch?’ And then ‘where are we doing dinner?’ And then ‘where are we doing drinks?’” said Kaplan.

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Food blogger Lily Kaplan (Photo courtesy of: Lily Kaplan)

“Eating Through San Francisco” now relies almost completely on Instagram content, with Kaplan posting on the blog only once every few weeks. She said that social media is “so visually oriented,” making food content engaging.

“We can see a photo of someone wearing clothes, and yeah, that’s great and it gives us inspiration, but everyone wants to be eating an Oreo cookie cake with ice cream, and chocolate, and caramel,” Kaplan said.

Bouchard also credited Instagram for food blogging’s surge in popularity, transitioning from content regulated by editors to unrestricted content from anyone who eats.

“It’s become a visual experience with no limits,” said Bouchard.

With so many people able to contribute to the trend, Vamos brings up a legitimate concern.

“Everybody’s qualified to have an opinion about food,” Vamos said. “Not everybody’s qualified to be a critic.”

Food critics must have a familiarity with the restaurant business, a broad knowledge of food and ingredients, and experientially refined palates. Many of them also have backgrounds as writers or journalists.

Bouchard just began her own video series, “Ballsy Bites.” Kaplan, who quit her job last month to focus solely on her blog, just accepted a position with an agency specializing in restaurant social media management. Rather than focusing mainly on her social media accounts, Gerard continues to post on her blog six times each week.

But all three are focused on a common mission: perpetuating society’s love affair with food.

“I still can’t believe that people actually cook my recipes,” said Gerard.

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